Not guilty: Maloney cleared in Origin boost
Penrith star James Maloney is free to play in Friday's NRL clash with the Wests Tigers after beating a dangerous contact charge at the judiciary.
Maloney was facing a one-game ban for his tackle on Canberra forward John Bateman in Saturday's loss to the Raiders but the three-member panel comprising Dallas Johnson, Mal Cochrane and Sean Garlick took 20 minutes to find Maloney not guilty.
"Happy with the outcome. Just gotta go through the process. I was a little bit surprised when the charge actually came. Nice to have it cleared and move onto this week," Maloney said.
Maloney was cited twice by the match review committee on Sunday, and pleaded guilty to a dangerous throw from the same game before fighting the second count.
He began the hour-long hearing by explaining that after initially losing hold of Bateman, he re-gripped the arm and held on until he heard a "held" call.
He also accused the Englishman of milking for a penalty, which wasn't awarded.
"I'd almost lost him so I'm just holding onto his arm," Maloney argued. "There hasn't been a held call and the ball-playing arm is still in the air... I hear a held call, I release, I get shoved three times with that (same) arm."
NRL prosecutor Peter McGrath accused Maloney of putting weight on the back of Bateman's elbow, a wrestling technique which could've caused a hyper-extension. However, defence counsel Nick Ghabar argued Maloney's contact was in the crook of the elbow and there was no twisting of Bateman's arm.
Ghabar suggested Bateman may have even injured himself by pushing Maloney three times immediately afterwards with the same arm.
Maloney's inclusion is a major boost for the struggling Panthers, who have won just two of their opening eight games and sit equal-last on the table. "It's nice to be out there to help them," he said.
"Hopefully we can turn things around."
It also gives the incumbent NSW State of Origin five-eighth an extra chance to prove why he should retain his jumper for game one.
There are just three rounds left before Blues coach Brad Fittler names his team to play at Suncorp Stadium.
"Look, that's the last thing on my mind. I need to get things right at Penrith, that's the focus for me," Maloney said.
Maloney was facing a one-game ban for an alleged illegal tackle on Canberra forward John Bateman but was found not guilty by the three-member panel.
Maloney's inclusion is a major boost for the struggling Panthers, who have won just two of their opening eight games and sit equal-last on the table.